Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has shared new commentary around play-to-earn game mechanics and NFTs, saying he feels “cautious” but doesn’t want to write off any new technology.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Spencer said the “play-to-earn” category specifically gives him pause. He admitted that this isn’t new in the gaming landscape–people have been gold-farming for years–but such mechanics being built directly into games represents a new step that requires a cautious outlook, he said.
“Play-to-earn specifically is something I am cautious about. It creates a worker force out of players for certain players to monetize. To be fair for us, in the games industry, this has existed for years and years. There have been gold farmers–people who literally just spend their time doing some menial task in a game to accrue some currency that they can then sell to some other rich player for real money, so that person doesn’t have to spend their time,” he said. “But now you find games that are starting to build that into the economy of the game itself.”
Microsoft’s Minecraft franchise has taken a hard line against play-to-earn mechanics and NFTs, and Spencer doubled down on this, saying he doesn’t want Minecraft to get involved with anything “exploitative.” That being said, Spencer isn’t ready to write off NFTs entirely.
“I think sometimes it’s a hammer looking for a nail when these technologies come up. But the actual human use, or player use in our case, of these technologies, I think there could be some interesting things,” he said.
Spencer isn’t alone in believing that NFTs and the blockchain shouldn’t be written off entirely. Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has said the underlying technology behind NFTs and the blockchain “isn’t completely proven or sorted yet,” and there are “scams and bad actors” taking advantage of the situation right now.
“Certainly, there’s a lot to be proven out and the massive loss in value of different platforms in the blockchain environment that we’ve seen over the past few weeks tells you this technology is still immature. But in my mind that’s not a reason to just completely push it aside and say it can never be anything of substance or value,” Fils-Aime said.
In the same interview, Spencer spoke about the real reason why Microsoft is trying to buy Activision Blizzard and said it probably won’t be easy to get a new console this holiday. In other news, Sony has raised the price of the PS5 in some markets, but Microsoft has confirmed it won’t do the same for Xbox.